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Promising Practices in Police Recruitment, Selection, Training, and Retention

Antoinette Tull

Antoinette Tull, Human Resources Division Chief, Richmond (VA) PD, discusses how law enforcement recruitment and retention strategies have changed in recent years, new retention strategies to attract millennial recruits, what retention strategies budget restricted agencies can consider implementing, and how NIJ can play a role in researching or evaluating strategies for recruitment and retention.

Antoinette Tull was a participant on an NIJ Saturday Session panel at IACP 2019.

Recruitment and retention strategies have changed tremendously over the past few years.  Previously in law enforcement, we were more of a "We'll call you." We took that type of approach.  Now, our approach is more of, "We're going to be where you are."  We're more community engagers.  And so we are out in the communities, we are talking with individuals who may not have even thought about policing because of the complexity of our problems. 

Generation Z and our millennials have changed the way we look at recruiting.  There were 80 million baby boomers in the workforce years ago.  Forty-five million us Generation Xers came in, and we pretty much became mini baby boomers because there were more of them.  And we decided that we needed to conform because our ideas were not as accepted. 

Now, we have 80 million millennials in the workforce, and 61 million Zs.  So their ideas, their perspectives on loyalty, on job stability, on income, have all changed the way we have to recruit and retain our younger employees. 

The strategies that we use to recruit younger individuals really stem from media and social media. And what we found is that they are driving it.  Younger individuals like technology, they like cars, they like things that move fast, and that are fast and efficient.  And so as agencies, where we're used to the bureaucracy, we are now moving towards being faster in how we recruit them through our processes.  Our background checks move faster, there are a lot of online, high-touch areas that we tend to move towards now, to keep them consistently engaged in who we are. 

In addition to that, we actually are out in the communities all the time.  So we're gauging that with our exit interviews, we're gauging that with employee referral cards.  When we visit colleges, and then we're looking at our online applications to ensure that those individuals that we've spoken to — we know where they're coming from. 

For budget-restricted agencies, the high-touch approach is going to be the approach that they would most likely want to strategize.  And a high-touch approach means that they are going to exceed their employees' expectations when it comes to engagement and interactions.  The leadership team understands who their recruits are; they understand their officers and their career trajectories.  And so in understanding where those individuals want to go, you're more likely to engage them in a fashion that's helping them understand that their professional trajectory holds value in their organization or in your organization, and they are able to keep them interested throughout their entire employee lifecycle. 

Research is imperative to how we conduct business.  If NIJ evaluates the strategies that are already in place by majority of agencies — I would say a swath of large, midsize, and small agencies — if there could be an evaluation of those agencies and what they're currently doing, and what the results are from those agencies, I think they would better serve us by publishing that for all to see, one. But two, evaluating the effectiveness of their outcomes.

Date Created: March 24, 2020